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Soroptimists host annual conference

Soroptimists host annual conference

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The Report

Soroptimist International of Great Britain and Ireland (SIGBI) recently held its 74th Federation Conference at the Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford conference centre in Barbados. This was an historic occasion since it is the second only conference held outside of the United Kingdom and the first in the Caribbean. The other conference was held in Durban, South Africa in 2001.{{more}}

What was perhaps the most significant feature of this conference however, was the fact that it was also the first time that the President was from the Caribbean. Marguerite Woodstock-Riley from the Bridgetown club Barbados was the presiding President and she was well supported by a large contingent of Soroptimists from the clubs in the Caribbean Region including St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

A 12 man-delegation from this country consisting of Norma Knights, Programme Action Chairman who was the representative on the Federation Programme Action Committee and highlighted the work of the Fairtrade organization in SVG especially in the banana farming industry. President Annelle Thomas attended as Federation Executive Councillor The other members were IPP of the Caribbean Kathryn Cyrus, Joyce Haynes, Nina Maloney, Christine DaSilva-DeRosa, Hazel Roberts, Nicola Williams, Zeitha Hadaway, Nelcia Primus, Euna Thompson and Gisela Balcombe-Nicholson.

Pre-conference meetings were held from Tuesday 28th October to Thursday 30th and ended with a Welcome Service on Thursday evening. The opening ceremony with the flags of the various countries being escorted by a representative, was very impressive , and messages from Heads of State in the Federation including St. Vincent and the Grenadines , were read The conference was officially opened by the Honourable David Thompson, Prime Minister of Barbados.

Among the many matters dealt with was the Incorporation of the Organisation as a Company. This generated much discussion at the Annual General meeting, before the motion to accept was approved. We were inspired by the many motivational addresses by several guest speakers and were able to view many projects from countries in other Federations as well as our own. This was the first time that so many Soroptimists from the Caribbean were able to attend a Federation Conference. The climax was on Saturday 1st November at the change of Insignia ceremony. President Marguerite passed on the chain of office to the incoming President Carwen Wynne-Howells. The Conference in 2009 will be held in Cardiff, Wales.

SI Caribbean Network also held its Interim meeting before the start of the Federation Conference; Nelcia Primus and Zeitha Hadaway were the delegates to this meeting and Kathryn Cyrus and Annelle Thomas Executive members. The Biennial conference will be held in Grenada in 2009.

On the local front SISVG began our new year of activites in May when we were invited by the Gender Affairs Division within the Ministry of National Mobilisation, Social Development, Youth and Sports to nominate a woman who had made a significant contribution to her community. On May 9th at a ceremony held at the Peace Memorial Hall, our nominee, Mrs. Cornis Sprott, a retired nurse, was one of five women,who received an this function. Six Soroptimists attended the ceremony.

In an effort to raise funds in support of our many service projects, we had a food and variety stall at a fair organised by the Helping Hands Centre Attendance was poor and we did not raise as much funds as anticipated, however members purchased most of the remaining food.

In recognition of our 21st anniversary, a day of reflection was held on July 20th . This took the form of business, fellowship and good food as we reflected on activities over the years and discussed the way forward for the club based on the “Can Do Campaign”(CDC) which all clubs in the Federation are expected to follow. It was an enjoyable and stimulating day

We had our usual break in August and during our first meeting in September we inducted two new members, which put us well above the target set by the CDC. The September issue of the Soroptimist News featured Programme Officer Norma Knights visiting a Fair trade farm in Georgetown to give an insight into the working of Fairtrade cooperatives.The farmer was Ms. Elmina ( Jemma ) Bobb. This was a proud moment for Norma and other members of the club.

On October 4th we hosted our annual Tea Party for some of our older friends in the community. The inclemency of the weather hindered many persons from attending ,but those who came enjoyed themselves. We were especially happy to have Lonique Wallace and her aunt there with us. Lonique was given a scholarship by the club to complete her education at the Girls’ High School and the St. Vincent Community College and did well both at CXC and A Level examinations.

Members joined the SVG Medical Association in their Pink Cap “City Walk” on October 17th. Sister Annelle Thomas said the opening prayer and Sister Nicola Williams read a prepared statement on “Make a Foot Print” for breast cancer awareness. The club also paid for transportation of students from the Leeward schools to attend the College and Career Exhibition also held by SVGMA on October 15 and 16 at the Methodist Church Hall

Our activities for 2008 ended with our annual fundraising Cocktails and Carols on December 5th followed by Christmas parties for the children at the Helping Hands Centre and the Glebe Preschool in Barrouallie, as well as a visit to the Female Surgical Ward at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital to take gifts for the patients and to bring them Christmas cheer and greetings. These are all service projects that the club is involved with.

We wish all of our friends and well-wishers, A Happy and Blessed Christmas Season and look forward to your continued support as we continue to serve humanity in our Nation.

l For further information on Soroptimist International please check our website at